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Youth Hockey FAQs

Whether you are just starting out or you are well-versed in the youth hockey community, Nickel City Hockey is here to answer your questions and provide as much insight into this world as possible. We host multiple events each year, adding more as the years go on, allowing us the opportunity to work with some of the best youth hockey teams in the nation. As New York's leading youth hockey tournament organization, we pride ourselves on creating uniquely competitive experiences for young athletes. If you have further questions about our event, please email us at

What are the best youth hockey tournaments?

The best youth hockey tournaments often vary depending on personal preferences and team goals. While we know our competitors put on great events, we truly believe that Nickel City Hockey offers a uniquely competitive opportunity for young athletes. 


What is the largest youth hockey tournament?

The largest youth hockey tournament varies by region and organization. In the Northeast, Nickel City Hockey hosts some of the most competitive tournaments for young athletes. Sometimes it is not about how big the tournament is, but the competitive skill level that is required in order to compete, the unique experience of a specific tournament, and the memories made while participating. 


What is the best age to start playing AAA hockey?

The best age to start playing AAA hockey can vary depending on the individual's skill level, commitment, and development. Typically, players begin competing at the AAA level around ages 10 to 12.


How do you get scouted for junior hockey?

Players can get scouted for junior hockey by showcasing their skills in various tournaments, leagues, and showcases, as well as through recommendations from coaches and scouts. Additionally, attending tryouts and participating in scouting combines can increase visibility to junior hockey programs.


What is the Nysaha Hall of Fame?

The Nysaha Hall of Fame honors individuals who have made significant contributions to amateur hockey in New York State. It recognizes players, coaches, officials, and administrators who have demonstrated excellence and dedication to the sport.


How many districts are there in USA Hockey?

USA Hockey is divided into 12 districts, each overseeing amateur hockey development and competitions within its respective geographic region.


Is AA or AAA hockey better?

AAA hockey typically represents the highest level of competition among youth hockey leagues, followed by AA and then A. Players in AAA leagues often have higher skill levels and compete at a more intense level than those in AA.


What is AAA hockey?

AAA hockey refers to the highest level of competitive youth hockey in North America. Teams at this level often consist of elite players who demonstrate advanced skills and compete in highly competitive leagues and tournaments.


How many tiers are there in youth hockey?

Youth hockey in North America typically consists of multiple tiers or levels of competition, including Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 leagues, each offering different levels of skill and competition.


What is the difference between Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 Hockey leagues?

In the context of youth hockey in the United States, Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3 refer to different levels of competitive play within the USA Hockey system. Here are the key differences between these tiers:

  1. Tier 1: Tier 1 hockey is the highest level of youth hockey in the United States. It typically consists of elite teams with the highest level of skill and competitiveness. Players in Tier 1 leagues often have aspirations of playing at the collegiate or professional level. These leagues usually involve extensive travel for games and tournaments, and players may be scouted by higher-level teams, colleges, or junior hockey programs. Tier 1 teams often participate in prestigious national tournaments and showcase events.

  2. Tier 2: Tier 2 hockey is the next level down from Tier 1 and is considered highly competitive but slightly less elite. These leagues still feature skilled players and competitive gameplay but may not require the same level of commitment or travel as Tier 1 leagues. Tier 2 teams may participate in regional or national tournaments, but they may not have the same level of exposure or recognition as Tier 1 teams.

  3. Tier 3: Tier 3 hockey is the level below Tier 2 and is often more focused on player development and providing opportunities for players to compete at a high level without the same level of commitment or pressure as Tier 1 and Tier 2 leagues. Tier 3 leagues may have more regionalized competition, with fewer long-distance travel requirements. These leagues can still be competitive, but they may offer a more balanced approach between skill development and competitive play.


How many AAA hockey teams are in the United States?

The number of AAA hockey teams in the United States can vary depending on the region and the specific age group. Generally, there are numerous AAA teams across various age divisions in major hockey-playing regions.


What is the average age of players in each league?

The average age of players in each league can vary based on factors such as the specific age divisions offered by the league, player development pathways, and eligibility rules. However, we can provide a general overview of the typical age ranges for players in each tier of youth hockey in North America:

  1. Tier 1 (AAA) Hockey:

    • Players in Tier 1 (AAA) hockey are often in the higher age brackets of youth hockey, typically ranging from around 14 to 18 years old.

    • Some Tier 1 programs may have teams for younger age groups, starting as early as 10 or 11 years old, depending on the league or organization.

  2. Tier 2 (AA or A) Hockey:

    • Players in Tier 2 hockey, often referred to as AA or A hockey, can span a wide range of ages, but they are generally younger than Tier 1 players.

    • Age ranges in Tier 2 hockey can vary depending on the league or organization, but players may start as young as 8 or 9 years old and continue through their early to mid-teens.

  3. Tier 3 (A or B) Hockey:

    • Tier 3 hockey, which includes A or B level teams, typically caters to a broader age range of youth players.

    • Players in Tier 3 hockey can start at a relatively young age, around 6 or 7 years old, and continue through their early teens.

    • Some Tier 3 programs may also offer age divisions for older teenagers who are still developing their skills or looking for a less competitive environment.

It's important to note that these age ranges are approximate and can vary based on the specific leagues, organizations, and geographic regions. Additionally, youth hockey programs may have different age cutoff dates for determining player eligibility, which can affect the age distribution within each league.


How hard is it to make AAA hockey?

Making a AAA hockey team can be challenging due to the high level of competition and limited roster spots. Players often undergo rigorous tryouts and evaluations to earn a position on a AAA team.


Is Junior A or AAA better?

Junior A and AAA hockey are both high levels of competition, but they exist in different contexts. Junior A refers to the highest level of junior hockey sanctioned by Hockey Canada, while AAA hockey typically refers to the highest level of youth hockey in North America.


Is AHL or OHL higher?

The American Hockey League (AHL) is a professional hockey league primarily consisting of teams affiliated with NHL franchises, whereas the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) is one of the three major junior ice hockey leagues in Canada and primarily serves as a development league for young players.


Is youth hockey expensive?

The cost of youth hockey can vary depending on factors such as league fees, equipment expenses, travel costs, and additional training expenses. While youth hockey can be costly, many organizations offer financial assistance programs to make the sport more accessible.


What are the steps to transition from youth hockey to junior hockey?

Transitioning from youth hockey to junior hockey involves several steps and considerations:

  1. Age and Eligibility: Junior hockey typically starts for players aged 16 to 20, depending on the league and division. Players may start considering junior hockey as they approach the end of their youth hockey eligibility.

  2. Skill Development: Players aspiring to play junior hockey often focus on developing their skills and hockey IQ during their youth hockey years. This includes improving skating, puck-handling, shooting, defensive play, and understanding of the game.

  3. Exposure and Recognition: Players may attend showcases, tournaments, and camps where junior hockey scouts and coaches are present. Achieving success in these events can increase visibility and opportunities for advancement to junior hockey.

  4. Player Evaluation and Tryouts: Junior hockey teams hold tryouts and evaluation camps to assess potential players. These tryouts often include on-ice drills, scrimmages, and interviews to evaluate players' skills, athleticism, and character.

  5. Understanding Junior Hockey Levels: Junior hockey consists of various levels, including Tier I (Junior A), Tier II (Junior B), and Tier III (Junior C). Players must understand the differences between these levels and identify where they fit best based on their skill level, development goals, and aspirations.

  6. Commitment and Dedication: Junior hockey requires a significant commitment in terms of time, effort, and often financial resources. Players must be prepared for the demands of junior hockey, which can include extensive travel, rigorous practice schedules, and balancing hockey with academics or work.

  7. Navigating Recruitment: Players and their families may work with advisors, coaches, and mentors to navigate the recruitment process, including communicating with junior hockey teams, understanding scholarship opportunities, and making informed decisions about the best fit for the player's development and future goals.

  8. Continued Development: Transitioning to junior hockey is not the end of the journey but rather a step in the ongoing development of a hockey player. Players must continue to work on improving their skills, conditioning, and hockey knowledge to succeed at the junior level and beyond.

Overall, transitioning from youth hockey to junior hockey requires dedication, perseverance, and a strategic approach to skill development, exposure, and recruitment. It's a significant step in a hockey player's journey toward reaching their potential and pursuing their dreams in the sport.


How long can you play youth hockey?

The duration that a player can participate in youth hockey can vary depending on several factors, including the age eligibility rules of the specific league or organization, the player's individual development pathway, and their personal goals in the sport. Here's a general overview:

  1. Age Eligibility Rules: Most youth hockey leagues and organizations have age eligibility rules that determine the maximum age a player can be to participate in youth hockey. These rules typically vary by league and may have different age cutoff dates for each age division. For example, a league might have age divisions for 8U, 10U, 12U, 14U, and so on, with specific age cutoff dates for each division.

  2. Development Pathway: Some players may choose to transition to junior hockey or other higher-level leagues before aging out of youth hockey. Junior hockey typically starts for players aged 16 to 20, depending on the league and division. Players may begin considering junior hockey as they approach the end of their eligibility for youth hockey.

  3. Personal Goals and Aspirations: The duration of a player's involvement in youth hockey can also depend on their individual goals and aspirations in the sport. Some players may continue playing youth hockey until they reach the maximum age allowed, while others may choose to pursue other opportunities, such as college hockey, junior hockey, or focusing on academics or other interests.

The length of time a player can participate in youth hockey is determined by age eligibility rules, individual development pathways, and personal goals in the sport. However, most players typically participate in youth hockey until they reach the maximum age allowed by the league or organization, which can vary depending on the specific rules in place.


Get in Touch

Contact our team today to learn more about our youth hockey tournaments and sign your team up today!

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